Why a data-driven approach is key for a successful return to office

Bringing people back to the office has revolved around whether to mandate or magnetise. Why don’t we use technology to create workspaces that support people in the way they work best?

Any forward-thinking organisation with a belief in quality over quantity would agree that total number of days spent in the office is not a reliable indicator of company (or individual) performance. Nor is enticing employees back to the workplace with the lure of free coffee, all-you-can-eat snacks, puppy cuddles on tap, and at-desk massages a worthwhile endeavour if teams can’t get meaningful work done in the office with the people they need to work with and in the way they want to work.

It’s this ability to access people, spaces and places easily that can make the difference between a fruitful trip to the office, or a wasted one. When the right people come together in the right place at the right time, great things can happen. It’s the foundation upon which all successful organisations are built.

Data, data everywhere and not a drop to think

Nobody has ever intentionally improved anything without understanding the problem first. The same goes for the workplace, and, more importantly, people’s experiences within that space. How can we even begin to create conditions under which people can do their best work if we can’t even gauge where we’re starting from?

At a minimum we’d need to know when people are onsite, yes, but what about identifying patterns in their preferred days for coming in? What if we could tell which teams are collaborating the most, with which people and where? Or, conversely, who’s coming in to do focused, lone working? Which rooms and spaces do they like to use? And, from that, how can we improve our set-up so that we’re catering to different working styles, and ensure that our workplace actually works for everyone?

The answer, of course, is data. And the great news is that that data already exists; it’s in every interaction within the workplace, from front door to fire exit, from boardroom to booth, and everywhere in between.

Data amassed, but what’s still amiss?

Many, if not most, organisations are already gathering at least part of that data; be it manually with sign-in books, time sheets and floor walking; or digitally with access swipes, meeting room calendars, and desk occupancy or motion sensors.

But the real challenge lies not only in collecting meaningful data but in being able to do so efficiently. And then to easily aggregate, access and analyse it so that is transformed from mountains of raw data sitting untapped in a forgotten file or stuck on a server somewhere, to meaningful workplace analytics. Analytics that provide the insight needed to optimise workplaces, drive efficiencies, create spaces where people can thrive, and make coming into the office worthwhile. Insight that includes who is in which space and when; the key to truly understanding how people work.

Yet, the reality for many organisations is far from this. They’ve deployed all sorts of tools, sold on the premise that more is most definitely more when it comes to measuring and monitoring, and they now find themselves drowning in data, much of which is meaningless and little of which is actionable for supporting return to office success.

Taking a different approach

So, what makes technology innovator Accessia different? Using location services, Accessia can digitally map each interaction with the physical workplace, more so than existing technologies and tools allow . That means that, as a person moves around and uses different areas within the office, an idea of their day in the office begins to take shape. And because the data that the mapping generates is attributable to people and the teams they belong to, it can then help build a picture to better understand preferred workflows, how teams and individuals work together, and where they like to work. This makes it easier to make decisions around how to best support those workflows through the physical work environment.

All this is enabled by simply asking people to do something that most of us do all the time – just keeping our phones (which also acts as our access pass)  on us when we’re at work. So then as we go about our workday, with a phone in our hand or pocket, Accessia picks up signals from our phones and builds a picture of our time in the office until we leave for the day.

In doing so, and with instant and granular reporting, Accessia makes getting to the knowledge that matters so much easier and allows for informed decision-making around how to optimise a workspace.  It’s the same data made available using the more familiar methods we mentioned earlier, but, thanks to the use of location services, that data is transformed into something much more useful: workplace analytics.

Paav Gandhi is Head of Product at Accessia, which was founded by a group of problem-solving innovators who believe in building better – better data and better experiences for better workplaces. Accessia is a Corporate Member of WORKTECH Academy. To learn more about Accessia’s workplace access, experience and analytics platform, get in touch via the Accessia website.
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